A championship basketball coach was fired the same night dozens of current and former students as well as parents gathered at a meeting to try and save his job.
Joe McLoughlin has served as the head coach of the Collingswood High School boys’ basketball team for 14 years and recently led the team to more wins than any coach in the school’s history. Yet, for a reason that has yet to be determined, McLoughlin was advised last month that his coaching contract would not be renewed.
McLoughlin’s supporters gathered for a heated public meeting in Collingswood. Many of the parents claim McLoughlin’s contract was not renewed due in part to the administration being upset that the African American players on his team get more playing time than white players. The school board has not given an official reason however.
McLoughlin sat in the second row of tonight’s meeting with his attorney, often on the verge of tears, as his supporters passionately defended him, referring to him as a mentor and father figure for his players.
One parent tearfully recalled a time in which McLoughlin was there for players who had lost their mother.
“It’s not just about basketball!” she screamed. “On the night that she died who was there? Coach McLoughlin!”
“He shouldn’t be here fighting for his job,” said another supporter. “He should be here being commended!”
During the meeting, some of the parents claimed they had listened to audio tapes of an unnamed school administrator making harsh statements about a minority player on the team. Members of the NAACP also attended the meeting.
“Coach McLoughlin plays the best players regardless of race,” said assistant coach Ed Purdy. “He shows love for everyone equally from the leading scorer to the water crew as a father figure should.”
The efforts were in vain however. Late Monday night, the school board made a unanimous vote to fire McLoughlin. An official reason has not yet been given.